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Golf Tips: Practice correct form to avoid the dreaded shank

By: Shawn Kelly
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The shank, the laterals and hosel rocket are all nicknames of the most dreaded golf shot you could possibly make. Your ball gets careened off to the right or left of the fairway depending on which side of the ball you stand. 

You feel as though it was the worst swing you have ever made and sometimes, you’ve lost the ball OB. It’s easy to understand if you realize why it happens and do a few drills to prevent it from happening in the first place.
 
The shank is caused when the hosel, or the shank of the club contacts the ball. It’s kind of like a baseball that gets fouled off and you never know where it will go. There are two reasons this can happen — you stood too close to the ball or you changed the path of the club.
 
The fundamental position of posture is defined by the distance between you and the ball that is maintained during the swing for solid contact. 
 
We need to have a tall, athletic balanced posture with a slight flex of the knees and a slight bend at the hips. The chest and head must be up — that’s right, the head is up! The familiar phrase “keep your head down” is one of the worst adages in any volume of golf tips. The arms should hang free and loose from the shoulders. With a properly fitted club the hands will be able to grasp the grip naturally, without tension resulting in a mechanically operable distance from the ball.
 
The second reason we might get the shanks is that we have changed the path of the club and swung the shank of the club head into the ball. The reason this happens is we have lost the timing of our swing and the arms are out of sequence with the legs. 
 
It happens to all of us and I’ll admit to loosing timing of my swing in many rounds of golf that I play. Not as often as some, but I can get a little out of sync and hit awkward shots now and then. 
 
Hopefully they’re not disastrous shanks, but they don’t match the mental image that I had in my pre-shot routine. 
 
When you lose timing, the intended path of the club changes and the club moves outside of the target line or away from you and the shank strikes the ball. It only has to move a couple of inches to miss the flat face of the club and strike the hosel. 
 
Try the drills below to prevent any shank issues in your swing. Do as many reps as possible and I’ll promise your shanks will be few and far between. 
 
Drills to help
 
The swing drill: Hold the club in front of you a foot above the ground. Swing the club back and forth at waist high, trying to relax the hands and feel the legs shifting weight from foot to foot. 
 
I like to feel my weight move from my right heel on back swing and then shift to the left toes on the forward swing. This motion should keep you in rhythm and the club head on path.
 
Box drill: Stand in front of an empty cardboard box at least three feet long and set up with the club perpendicular to the middle of the box and club head almost touching. Make some swings and try not to hit the box, if you are swinging and not touching the box, your path is very good. 
If you hit the box your swing path needs some work. If you can swing full and not strike the box, your path is great and your shanks will be gone.